Archive for June, 2012

The Supreme Court does the Rope-A-Dope

From CNN this morning.

In a landmark ruling that will impact the November election and the lives of every American, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the controversial health care law championed by President Barack Obama.

Now I had a feeling the night before that this was going to happen. Why? you might say well I think that you have to look at these things logically, at least that is what I thought was the process that courts and judges use. Logic based on the rule of law. And the simple fact is that the government regulates many things in our everyday lives, well within the constitution.

In a 5-4 ruling, the high court decided the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance is valid as a tax, even though it is impermissible under the Constitution’s commerce clause.

While Obama acknowledged the issue has been “divisive” in the years since he assumed office, he maintained his push for the law was not driven by politics.

“I didn’t do this because it was good politics,” Obama said. “I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.”

So although I think it was a major victory for Democrats and progressives I also think it was a bit of a cover-up a distraction if you will. A distraction from what? Well there were a few rulings this week. Healthcare for sure stirs passions but immigration also can get just as heated.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that three of the law’s four key provisions infringed on the federal government’s constitutional jurisdiction over immigration. The high court let stand the provision allowing police to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. This ruling generated allot of passionate responses on both sides but I think that Health care and Immigration were just a distraction. You see little covered and hardly stirring up as much debate was the Supreme Courts ruling on Campaign Finance Reform in Montana.

The Supreme Court has struck down a Montana ban on corporate political money, ruling 5 to 4 that the controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling applies to state and local elections.

The court broke in?American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock along the same lines as in the original Citizens United case, when the court ruled that corporate money is speech and thus corporations can spend unlimited amounts on elections.

“The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law,” the majority wrote. “There can be no serious doubt that it does.”

No arguments were heard; it was a summary reversal.

“To the extent that there was any doubt from the original Citizens United decision broadly applies to state and local laws, that doubt is now gone,” said Marc Elias, a Democratic campaign lawyer. “To whatever extent that door was open a crack, that door is now closed.”

A 1912 Montana law barred direct corporate contributions to political parties and candidates — a response to the election interference of “copper kings.” Mark Twain wrote of one such mining giant in 1907, Sen. William Clark (D), “He is said to have bought legislatures and judges as other men buy food and raiment. By his example he has so excused and so sweetened corruption that in Montana it no longer has an offensive smell.”

The state supreme court upheld that ban late last year in spite of Citizens United, saying Montana’s history of “rough contests for political and economic domination” gave the state a “unique and compelling interests” in limiting corporate influence on elections.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer wanted the Montana case heard, arguing that Citizens United should get new scrutiny in the light of its effect on campaign finance.

In his original decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that independent campaign expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Ginsberg argued that the Montana case was an opportunity to reconsider “in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance.”

But today’s ruling shows that the five justices who supported the original ruling have not budged.

In a dissent, Breyer wrote that “Montana’s experience, like considerable ex­perience elsewhere … casts grave doubt on the Court’s supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that the court was, “For apparently political reasons … further tipping the balance of power in America in favor of deep-pocketed, outside interests.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), on the other hand, called the decision?an “important victory for freedom of speech.” He filed an amicus brief in the case.

 

Now this is where the “Rope A Dope” comes in. According to Wikipedia:

“In competitive situations other than boxing, rope-a-dope is used to describe strategies in which one party purposely puts itself in what appears to be a losing position, attempting thereby to become the eventual victor.”

And this is what the Supreme court has in essence done. Yes Health-care is important (I still can’t believe we are arguing over whether or not everyone should have access to health care) and yes immigration (check that ILLEGAL immigration, cause that after all is what we are really talking about right?) are important issues but in my mind and correct me if I am wrong are not as important as corporations having the same rights as the people. A ruling that corporations are people and can spend endless sums to affect an election is really really dangerous and scary to me. We all know from having worked in the corporate environment that rarely do you get a corporation that acts as a compassionate member of society. A corporation is all about the bottom line. The bottom line is all about the ALL Mighty Dollar (trumpets blaring). And the creation of the Super PACS (Political Action committees) that can collect unlimited sums from corporations, unions and special interest groups, while average citizens are limited in their contributions.

Contribution Limits

An individual may give a maximum of:

  • $2,500 per election to a Federal candidate or the candidate’s campaign committee. Notice that the limit applies separately to each election. Primaries, runoffs and general elections are considered separate elections.
  • $5,000 per calendar year to a PAC. This limit applies to a PAC (political action committee) that supports Federal candidates. (PACs are neither party committees nor candidate committees. Some PACs are sponsored by corporations and unions–trade, industry and labor PACs. Other PACs, often ideological, do not have a corporate or labor sponsor and are therefore called nonconnected PACs.) PACs use your contributions to make their own contributions to Federal candidates and to fund other election-related activities.
  • $10,000 per calendar year to a State or local party committee. A State party committee shares its limits with local party committees in that state unless a local committee’s independence can be demonstrated.
  • $30,800 per calendar year to a national party committee. This limit applies separately to a party’s national committee, House campaign committee and Senate campaign committee.
  • $117,000 total biennial limit. This biennial limit places a ceiling on your total contributions, as explained below.
  • $100 in currency (cash) to any political committee. (Anonymous cash contributions may not exceed $50.) Contributions exceeding $100 must be made by check, money order or other written instrument.

So  you can see that this ruling flew under the collective consciousness of the electorate but could have much graver consequences for all. The old Muhammad Ali Rope-A-Dope from your US Supreme Court!!!

 

R.I.P. Rodney King ( April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012)

Rodney King was found dead today in the pool of his backyard!

Rodney Glen King was the victim in a police brutality case involving the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on March 3, 1991. A bystander, George Holliday, videotaped much of the incident from a distance.
The footage showed seven officers surrounding the solitary King, with several LAPD officers repeatedly striking a helpless King with their batons while the other officers stood by watching, without taking any action to stop the beating. A portion of this footage was aired by news agencies around the world, causing public outrage that increased tension between the local black community and the LAPD and increased anger over police brutality, racism and social inequalities in Los Angeles.
Four LAPD officers were later tried in a state court for the beating; three were acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict for the fourth. The announcement of the acquittals sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots. A later federal trial for civil rights violations ended with two of the officers found guilty and sent to prison and the other two officers acquitted.

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